Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks - I got pretty excited about Hanks's release earlier on, and now I finally managed to read it. The result? My favourite actor (and no, I am not biased!) knows how to write. The characters of his fiction are not complicated, on the contrary. They cope with their ordinary, everyday lives, growing up, falling in love, surviving personal and world wars, starting all over again as their marriages end... This could sound like a cliché, yet Hanks's writing style prevents this from happening. Instead of creating Hollywood scenes he realistically captures life with all its beauty and hope. I have two favourite stories. The first one, 'Christmas Eve 1953', is about a soldier who cannot escape haunting memories of the war's atrocities (although for the first couple of pages you would think that he is just a normal guy, getting ready for Christmas, I loved this little twist so much!!). The second, 'A Month on Greene Street', follows a recently divorced woman, who moves into a new house with a too much talkative neighbour (or does she judge him too hastily?). Well, as I said, if you think that you know what will happen on the next page, then go and read Uncommon Type. Because Hanks proves that sometimes, the most unexpected things lie in the ordinariness around you. Also, please, do not miss the story 'Our Town Today with Hank Fiset', describing the power of mobile phones and auto correct... (P.S. Yes, there are emojis in the book + that reminds me, my another favourite stories are: 1) about a guy trying to cope with his super pro-active girlfriend 2) and a record from actor's diary while promoting a new movie)
Saturn had just risen, soon to behold smack in the middle of the sky and cool as hell. (Uncommon Type)
The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater - This book is definitely going to make it to my list with book tips for Christmas presents (yes, this is coming soon, I promise). Slater combines recipes with beautiful descriptions of winter, notes and stories, beginning in November and ending in February - which does not mean that you cannot start reading it in the middle of December. What I love about this book is its form - it looks like a novel, yet it is full of stunning photos (my favourite one is next to the recipe for Seville orange and pomegranate marmalade) as well as 100 essential recipes you should try when winter knocks on your door (I enjoyed the one with grilled aubergine and lentil). Slater's writing is original and warming, which is especially nice during this chilly season. Believe me, I had no idea how much I would enjoy reading about winter until I came across his book. My only little problem is that a couple of recipes do not show a photo of the final dish alongside the instructions. In general, what I look for in a cookbook is a clear description of how to prepare the meal - which is 100% perfect in The Christmas Chronicles -, as well as a photo on the side of the recipe so I know what to expect (maybe it is just me, but I always want to see what I am actually attempting to cook), which is sometimes missing in this case. However, the complexity and yet simplicity of the chronicle, with author's passion for both cooking, traditions and storytelling, easily make up for few missing picture. By the way, the book also includes Santa's address! That detail really got me!
It is the winters that stay in my memory, carved deep as a fjord, as long and clear as an icicle. (The Christmas Chronicles)
The Art of Fiction by David Lodge - Being a literature student means that you automatically, constantly judge everything you read (you have no idea how many times I edit my posts before publishing them here, on the blog). And because I come across so many secondary sources exploring the art of writing from academic point of view, sometimes it is nice to learn something new without falling asleep while trying to understand looooong scholar sentences. David Lodge's collection of essays on individual topics, themes and literary forms is perfect just for that, because with its writing style it is accessible to the wide range of all different types of readers (die-hard booklovers, both high school and university students, or people who read five books per year). Originally published as weekly articles in a newspaper, his explanations of words like 'stream of consciousness', 'epistolary novel' or 'magic realism', are easy to follow and yet educative and interesting. He demonstrates all he describes on specific examples from famous books of authors like Virginia Woolf, Henry James, James Joyce or Jack Kerouac, which is really helpful in order to fully understand what he is saying. Some chapters were slightly uninteresting for me since I knew their topics by heart (such as metaphor or symbolism), however, I still learned some useful new terms - for example, I had no idea about the name for Kerouac's specific use of language in On the Road. If you are a booklover, who wants to know a bit more about literary terminology, definitely have a look on this little beauty.
The novel always was, of course, notable for its interiorized rendering of experience. (The Art of Fiction)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë - Although I already have one edition of the book back in my hometown, I could not resist getting this Penguin Classic because of its beautiful cover! On the other hand, this also forced me to actually finish the story. When it comes to the Brontë sisters, my favourite one is the youngest Anne (she wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) for its approach to women characters and opening up the taboo of alcoholism in marriage. However, everyone seems to love Emily's Wuthering Heights, which obviously meant that I wanted it to judge it myself. The famous plot depicts an orphan Heathcliff, who falls in love with beautiful, rich Catherine. Although they are separated by Catherine's brother, Heathcliff returns to the Yorkshire moors to revenge himself. I loved the first part of the book, reading until midnight, putting it down just because my eyes where actually bailing on me. But when it came to the second half, sometimes I got slightly bored with Heathcliff's undying desire to avenge all the injustice inflicted on him during his childhood, by hurting people who did not even take a part in his tortures. What I enjoyed the most was Emily's beautiful use of language, rather than certain parts of the plot. Because when she is so precisely describing the wild nature surrounding Wuthering Heights, you feel like you are there with the characters. I think that in general, British writers know exactly how to embody the wilderness of nature with all its beauty, one of the reasons why I love them so much (hello, Mr. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, my beloved English book). Looking for a happy ending? It comes, and its twist eventually made me put the book on the list of my favourite British classics.
On an afternoon in October, or the beginning of November, a fresh watery afternoon, when the turf and paths were rustling with moist, withered leaves, and the cold, blue sky was half hidden by clouds...' (Wuthering Heights)